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Leave It to Roll-Oh

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Leave It to Roll-Oh

Publication date 1940
Digitizing sponsor Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corporation
Tongue-in-cheek film showing a domestic robot freeing housewives of their chores (and intimating that their work is hardly necessary); actually a promo showing how relays and switches function in the modern automobile. Shown at the New York World's Fair in 1940.



Ken Smith sez: Roll-Oh is a big, clunky, slow-moving robot -- a "chromium-plated butler" of the future -- and Jam Handy uses him as a metaphor to show how "robots" (such as thermostats and automatic choke controls) make modern driving a breeze. Roll-Oh can light candles with his breath and water plants with his fingertips, even though you know he's only a bunch of cardboard boxes painted silver. Watch for the the demostration of the "Petomat," and the scene where Roll-Oh uses his vacuum feet. More robots in films, please!

CHEVROLET ADVERTISING AUTOMOBILES FANTASY HOUSES DOMESTIC WORKERS HOMES INTERIORS LIVING ROOMS WOMEN MEN APPLIANCES GAGS GADGETS DOORS POSTAL CHAIRS BUTTONS CONTROL PANELS MACHINERY TECHNOLOGY Robots Chevrolet Motor Co. (sponsor) Futurism Humor Surrealism Home economics Housework Women Laziness Double-takes Mailmen Letter carriers Workers (postal) Pets Food (pet) Inventions Gizmos Oddities Doubletalk Buttons Hands (pushing buttons) Vacuum cleaners Candles (lighting) Flowers Fountains (water) Water fountains Children (African American) African Americans (children)


Reviewer: tribtower - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 27, 2013
Subject: They had know how. Do we?
Well done Jam Handy screenwriters. Clever tongue
in cheek and ya might learn something too. The
nit-picking about the pronounciation of "ROBOT"! as "ROBUT" is the way many Canadians say this word. I can see all the multicultural stuff they've tried to cram into your Yankee heads has'nt done one bit of good. The people of 1940
who this was intended for knew the message was the medium. WOW! all those wonderful appliances
featured in the movie- we would'nt even know how to make one of those in this country any more. Whata pop-up toaster. As for that- writing a fine little shooting script, this too would be out of the question. Look at the stuff on TV or even worse at the movies. Hate to be hard on ya one of
you even put this 73 year old advertising film into a video. And that AMERICAN made pop-up toaster, you can find one like at the GOODWILL THAT STILL WORKS. Nuff said.
Reviewer: I X Key - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 29, 2011
Subject: This film used in a new classical music video!
Good morning! Material from this is used in my new classical music video!

I X Key _ Beauty (Presto) [Version for 12 Pianos]

I hope you'll enjoy!
Reviewer: Robin_1990 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 22, 2008
Subject: Another Great Jam Handy Film!
I can't get enough of these Jam Handy films. Please Rick, Upload More!
Reviewer: Attacking Martian - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 11, 2008
Subject: Roll-Oh is Fun-Oh to Watch
You can always count on the fact that promo films from GM and it's various subsidies are always going to be of top-notch quality and full of fun things to see. I've seen this before but enjoyed seeing it again.
Reviewer: 'Juana Bee - favoritefavoritefavorite - October 5, 2006
Subject: A valid way to pronounce "robot"...
To StratoGeezer and other reviewers below: Don't be so hard on our poor announcer! If you look up the word "robot" in Webster's dictionary, you will find that there are two possible pronunciations; the first is like "row-bought", as most people say, the second like "row-b't", with the final vowel represented by an upside-down 'e', which is similar to the second 'e' in "sherbet". Although it does have an odd ring nowadays, originally it was considered the "correct" pronunciation! Professional narrators do go to school for these things.
Reviewer: bread - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 1, 2006
Subject: This was the first Jam Handy film i ever saw!
A few years ago, before i knew about this website, i saw this film on a magazine cover disc. They included it to use with a divx player that was on the disc. I just re-discoverd the film here and enjoyed it again. I love the comedy, which is very funny. The water fountain was very interesting, as i have never seen a water fountain like that. Also, when i first saw this film, i didn't know it was a ad for chevrolet (I'm 15 and live in australia, chevrolets have not been sold here since the early 80's). If you like Jam Handy films, you will enjoy this film. One of the best films in the archive.
Reviewer: StratoGeezer - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 10, 2006
Subject: The "Robit" Film
The announciation of the narrator is half the fun of watching these films. Although this film centers around a a hilarious, clunky, stereotypical 1950's robot, the narrator pronounces it as "Robit" over and over.

This "robit" is totally good humor to watch - especially the part where he vacuums up a mess with his foot. The voice is perfect.

This film associates all sorts of now ancient technologies with robot-like qualities. It's a good analogy - and really interesting to see illustrations of the latest technologies of the time - especially the insides of the mechanical car radio - showing the push button mechanisms.

Finally - there is some wierdness and awkward humor with the water fountain scene, in which a little black child is appaently unable to comprehend the electric eye that turns the stream of water on and off. He does it about five times before taking a drink..... This illustrates clearly that much more than the technology has changed since the 1950's!
Reviewer: ERD - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 13, 2006
Subject: Clever
Clever little film that leads to praising the workings of the automobile of 1940. Today, of course, it is dated.
Reviewer: xirdneh - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 28, 2006
Subject: Amusing
Funny little film turns into an automobile campaign. By the way, where's the GET MARTINI button?
Reviewer: pottersclay75 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 22, 2005
Subject: Watch out for the "robuts"
Other than the narrator's annoying way of saying "robut," this film is very entertaining.

Roll-oh is great. They must have had a great number of problems with the furnace, though, since Roll-oh's control panel had a permanent "fix furnace" button. He needs a vocabulary update since he has not evolved past caveman speech.

The only problem with this film is that you think its going in one direction, and then get stuck with looking at car parts for the last half. But, Jam Handy didn't bite the hand that fed it.
Reviewer: BraddS - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 9, 2005
Subject: Everything You Need To Know About Roh-Bits
A 1930s Popular Mechanics vision of the robotic near future, probably meant to be around 1960. The repairman's technical double talk at the beginning appeared to be bogus radio electronics terms ("the heterodynes were feeding back into the stimulus reaction activators"), probably meant to impress the audience, as radio was the latest high-tech of the 30s. It was also a little annoying to hear the narrator constantly referring to simple electro-mechanical devices as little thinking machines, but I guess he probably had no idea that the first generation of vacuum-tube digital computers was already being perfected in Philadelphia, Boston and Iowa. Points awarded for showing a future where electric can openers are never envisioned.
Reviewer: HuckleberryFinn - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 12, 2004
Subject: I want to kill this robot and its manufacturer(s)
Roll-Oh has got to be the squarest, clunkiest hunk of metal crap ever grace the silver screen. Still, the family keeps it around because it's somehow proficient at completing household tasks.

This film gets 5 stars for including an African American boy pre-1960 without mentioning his race or implying he's a drug addict.
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 9, 2004
Subject: Roll-Oh, Robot Prince Charming
The film opens with a nerdy repairman leaving a woman a "Roll-Oh," a large robot who performs her household chores. Roll-Oh is clearly a masculine robot who (unlike some human husbands) is happy to help out around the house. He brings her flowers, vacuums, and cooks her dinner while she sits in the living room reading magazines. According to his control panel, he also makes beds and fixes the furnace. Whenever the woman asks Roll-Oh to do a household chore, he says "Yes, ma'am, Roll-Oh do!" in a with a smile. And then he immediately does it without complaining! But then Roll-Oh vanishes. The film reveals what we women already know, Roll-Oh's "just a day-dream after all." After Roll-Oh's gone, the woman is stuck back alone in the kitchen. She wanders around listlessly as the male voice-over tells us about the "thinking machines" in her kitchen that keep the coffee hot and the toast brown. What a come-down! Where did Roll-Oh go? After learning about automatic lights and automated airplane instruments, we find out what happened to Roll-Oh. He materializes inside a Chevrolet. The car is driven by a woman whose face we never see (maybe it's the same woman, out looking for her dream robot). Little does she know that Roll-Oh is under the hood "feeding the engine." Yes, he's still cooking. Two little Roll-Ohs disagree about the "spark" in the engine, but do they fight about it? Nope-- "each takes his turn." Then Roll-Oh is in the car's gearshift and all the (female) driver has "is to tell him what to do." Roll-Oh is obviously every woman's dream. He helps out around the house with a smile and keeps her car in great shape so she can go wherever she wants. This truly is a futuristic film.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 18, 2003
Subject: Oh! Roll-Oh!
Somewhat overpraised look at "the future" featuring one heck of a clunky robot, a woman who sits around and reads magazines all day, and the usual shill about how great Chevrolet is. I did like the inventions of "today", the unplugging kettle and the timed dog dish, but the rest was all just okay.
Reviewer: Cell Sam - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 22, 2003
Subject: Leave it to Roll-Oh
A true fantasy film where the housewife is able to free herself of house work to sit around all day and read magazines. The only thing missing is the bon bons. Take a look at our pretty housewife in 3 or 4 mos.: My ! her figure has filled out - she's as big as Roll-Oh !
Another interesting part of the film shows a black boy at a wonderous new water fountain. It is ironic at this time that black americans were told that such water fountains were "For Whites Only". If only Roll-Oh could see what we can do now !
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 7, 2002
Subject: Leave It to Roll-Oh
If you want something that's guaranteed campy, you can't go too far wrong with early visions of robots. Roll-Oh is a robot taken straight out of a cheap serial and placed in the home with a housewife. He waters flowers with his own water supply, vacuums the carpet with his feet, and scares away a delivery boy. Despite this, he looks incredibly clunky and more trouble than he's worth. After awhile, the narrator tells us he's "just a dream", but that his counterpart already exists in our homes in the form of modern appliances. This film was shown at the GM exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, probably as a rip-off of Electro, the Westinghouse robot that caused such a stir at the fair. But it's a really lame rip-off. This was made during the time when they still couldn't decide how to pronounce the word "robot"ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂin this film it's pronounced "ROB-but" one time, and "ROBE-it" another.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Lifestyles USA, Vol. 1.
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